Saturday, March 03, 2012
Let The Good Times Roll
A trickle of irritation ran beneath the hair on his scalp. He hadn’t come here to chit chat. He gulped from his glass, and glanced at the gold watch he wore on his right wrist. Then, as often happened, his mood shifted. His mind slithered in another direction. He felt an enjoyable stir deep below his navel. He relaxed, licked his lips.
“Laissez les bon temps roulez. Know what that means?” he said.
“Let the good times roll. I understood your bastardized Cajun French. I might be a North Carolina good old boy, but I’m not ignorant like some.” The old man raised his eyebrows, stared at his son. “If you’d spent more time working while in New Orleans, instead of partying, we wouldn’t be having this meeting.”
The good heat in the younger man’s belly turned to fire and he seethed as his father flipped open another ledger, pondered the numbers. He visualized a crack in that egg-shaped dome of a head. He began to move, wound across the elegant study, his dancing Cobra’s mind masked by a lazy smile. Large brown spots aged the back of his father’s hands, reminded him of the skin of a horny toad. The muscle along his jaw jumped.
“Wonder if young women like fairytales?” he said with a pleasant uplift to the last word. His tongue flicked in and out tasting the smell of the old man in the air.
“Fairytales?” His father drew his brows together, quirked his head to one side.
“Yes, I wonder if one’d kiss an old frog?” He watched his prey flinch from the sting of the bite. A rush surged through his veins from the inflicted pain. A broad smile loosened his jaw.
His father’s face deepened to the color of a ripe plum. He stared out the window, thumbed the ledger. The rapid flutter of the pages sounded like a quail flushed from tall grass.
The younger man’s chest expanded as he uncoiled his spine, stretched tall. He took a pleased breath, felt in control, pointed to a scatter of blank paper lying on the desk. Time to set things in motion. It was growing dark.
The old man scowled, shuffled the pages, tapped them into a neat stack, and laid it aside. He dragged a four inch thick ledger toward himself, paused, patted the saddle brown leather cover. Gnarled arthritic fingers fumbled it open.
“These old books talk to me.”
“Write the codicil.” The younger man flexed, admired the thickness of his forearms. The muscles rippled beneath the tawny skin of his jacket. He made fists of his hands. He wouldn’t mind a little physical persuasion exercise. It would relieve the tension.
His father frowned, straightened, shook his head. “No, we need to straighten things out. Point of honor. Need to give you a chance to right your wrongs.” He leaned back in his leather chair, swiveled, shoved the ledger onto a shelf. “Been doing some research.”
The younger man tensed as his father picked up a folder and drummed his fingers on its top. Ba-du-rum, ba-da-rum.
The sound hammered against the younger man’s brain. He gulped from his drink. Surely, the folder contents didn’t concern him. The old geezer didn’t have the tools or the brains to follow his trail. Blood pulsed up his neck, heated his face. He jumped from foot to foot.
“Watch out.” The old man moved a porcelain horse. “You’re restless as a hound after a bitch. Come back when you’re under control.”
“Sure thing Pop.” His glass hit the desk with a bang. Liquor sloshed out, spilled upon the polished mahogany surface. He felt a slight ease in the invisible hands around his throat, coiled his arm around his briefcase, and pulled it to his side. His father narrowed his eyes, lowered his chin, scowled.
Control. It was becoming his mantra. Ironic, since it’s what his father had always lectured about. Hold it together and his father would cave and fix the will. He always did. Time to leave.
He pushed through the door, let the screen slam behind him. The sound of ice rattling in a glass chased him outside. He pictured the old man wiping up the mess he’d left behind. It was a father’s job to clean up after his children. And, a son’s job to take care of his father. Anger pounded in his head, snaked through his control with the abandon of a Mardi Gras dancer. He whirled and re-entered the house. Laissez les bon temps roulez.
He shouldn’t have slammed the glass down. It was a mistake, and mistakes could be dangerous. Fury heated his face. He backed away, pivoted on his heel.The old man was right. He needed to leave before he lost control, blew the whole deal.“I apologized. There was no need for you to change your will. Write down what I told you before you forget.” He stroked his upper lip, waited.